Wednesday, March 26, 2014
A 3/17 article in the Post and Courier highlights a discussion on what is and when is a dog a service dog and, therefore, entitled to be brought into any establishment or beach or other facility where there is a legal restriction on dogs. I was in Florida recently and walking through a market, I was amazed that so many dogs were in the normally dog-restricted facility – each with a red/orange slip-on sash proclaiming them as service dogs. I know there are many older and retired people in Florida, but you could not but think that many of them could easily function without a dog; this provides them with the amoral yet legal opportunity to take their dog with them on all of their comings and goings and not have to worry about the dog being left alone in their homes or having to pay for pet-sitting. In Florida, the word gets around quickly and this explosion of service dogs is surely an abuse of the Disabilities Act, just as certainly as the handicapped parking spaces became in S.C. before photos and more intense supervision was enacted; even now though, the handicapped parking placard and the people getting out of cars do not always equate to the handicapped, which includes those with hidden health problems, especially as they self-load pounds of merchandise with the skill of a longshoreman. Service dogs should have a placard that is signed, sealed and attested to on a physician’s form included in a see-through pocket attached to a state-defined slip-on sash. Just as in Florida, there will be an explosion of abuse once it becomes evident that you can take your dog wherever you want just by putting an internet or pet-shop-purchased service sash on the dog and claiming some form of disability.
While I am on the subject of common abuses – when will City of Charleston parking enforcement and the DOT stop with the truck license plates on little VWs, Porsches, Fiats and the like (oh yeah, they are trucks and pigs fly) and when will the enforcement agents ticket SUVs with such plates when it becomes evident that the occupants (ya know, mommies and kids on a shopping trip on King Street and others, just because they can) are not loading or unloading anything commercial? All of this causes the congestion and danger on King Street when true commercial vehicles cannot park in the spaces designated for them because these miscreants are given a pass by DOT and parking enforcement.
I’m just an old grandma to six adorable, handsome/beautiful and very kind-hearted grandchildren – four girls and two boys. Each of my two daughters had two girls and one boy. You may be wondering why I might use up space in the editorial section of this newspaper (if my letter is accepted) to gloat on my two grandsons – West Ralston, age 9, who lives in Mount Pleasant with his family, and Chase McKoy, age 13, who lives here in Camden with his family. I am overjoyed with pride in what each of these young men have done or are doing. When West’s ninth birthday was approaching in February, he asked his mom if he could choose how he would like to spend any money he may get (it’s usually customary that all of us grandparents and his parents give him money to spend as he would like). She said it would be his money to spend as he may wish. He then told her he would like to spend it on toys and books for the sick children at the MUSC Children’s Hospital. When his mom told us grandparents his wish, we all upped the amount we would usually give the grandchildren – plus his aunt (his mom’s sister) heard about it and said she would like to “chip in” too. He “collected” $600. His mom contacted the Children’s Hospital to find out their protocol for donating and what type of toys and books they may need. She was told they really need DVDs, and some toys and books would be good too. West was thrilled to take his money to shop with his mom, and after everything was purchased and a day was selected to deliver the gifts, they made the delivery. West was so excited and never once missed spending any money on himself – and said he planned to do this again for future birthdays.
My other grandson, Chase, who is very close to his paternal grandfather who lives nearby, has been spending many afternoons (after his homeschooling and on weekends) at the hospital here in Camden sitting by his Papa Pete’s bedside chatting with him and holding his hand. Papa Pete is a wonderful and very kind-hearted man who unfortunately is terminally ill. This has been extremely hard on Chase, but he knows his Papa Pete will go to a better place when he passes.
Mary Lynn West
A recent letter to the editor referenced an occasion on which he experienced a bicyclist on the causeway from Mount Pleasant to Sullivan’s Island who, while choosing to ride directly on the roadway instead of utilizing the adjacent bike lane, became “disgruntled” at the fact that he had been unable to circumvent the globe in order to get around him and had, in his (the cyclist’s) opinion, come closer to him than he would have preferred. Let me say that I too have encountered the same scenario on a number of occasions.
An opposing view by local biking enthusiast, Carlsen Huey, appeared in a subsequent edition of the Moultrie News. Some of his statements need to be addressed:
1. Mr. Huey cited a state code which indicates that bicyclists are in fact permitted to ride on the roadway even if a bicycle lane is present. At no point in his letter did the opposing view state that the cyclist was breaking the law by choosing not to utilize the bike lane – only that it appeared inappropriate and hazardous for him to do so. This is why it’s a requirement for a cyclist crossing the Ravenel Bridge to utilize the adjacent bike lane instead of congesting traffic and risking injury by riding on the roadway. No doubt common sense won out over arrogance when that requirement was put into place. (BTW – On more than one occasion, I’ve witnessed cyclists utilizing the walking/running area on the Ravenel Bridge instead of that which has been designated for bicycles. It appears as though some of them are determined to be contrary, regardless of the circumstances.)
2. Mr. Huey also insinuated that the motorist had come dangerously close to the cyclist, thus breaking the law in the process. In his letter, the motorist stated only that he had apparently gotten closer to the cyclist than he (the cyclist) would have preferred. Unless Huey witnessed the situation firsthand, he’s in no position to insinuate that the required 3-foot barrier between bicycle and car had been broken. Furthermore, while the bicyclist’s subsequent hand gesture may not be considered to be a violation of obscenity laws, it is nonetheless a vulgar response that was witnessed by the occupants of the countless number of cars (many of which may have contained small children) that were passing at that particular time. For Mr. Huey to condone such action certainly brings his credibility on the matter into question.
3. Regardless of the fact that the bike lane is (by Huey’s account) scheduled to be resurfaced in the near future, I’d be willing to place a considerable wager on the fact that regardless of the effort and expense to be put into the project, a number of obstinate “it’s my road too” cyclists will instead continue to utilize the roadway.
4. At no point in his letter did the motorist state that the Highway 41 or Ashley River Bridges should not be accessible to bicyclists – only that motorists who pay taxes to use these bridges (unlike bicyclists) should not be inconvenienced in the process. Sidewalks on both bridges are more than sufficient to accommodate foot traffic, whether one be walking a bicycle across or not.
5. Mr. Huey’s bantering about overweight children, full parking decks and clogged streets are not germane whatsoever to the subject at hand. The motorist’s primary argument concerned that of a cyclist choosing to unnecessarily hold up traffic by refusing to utilize the bike lane. It was in no way an indictment on those who ride bicycles or those who use the roadway when a bike lane is not present. It’s painfully apparent that Huey’s decision to bring such things into the discussion are based solely on his inability to justify any rationale why a cyclist would choose to utilize the roadway when a bike lane is available.
I have no objection to bicyclists using our roadways for transportation or recreation, although it seems appropriate that in doing so, they too should be taxed in much the same way as the operators of motor vehicles. The rampant disregard for our traffic laws by many of these cyclists should be more strictly enforced. If they want to persist in playing the “it’s my road too” card, then they should be prepared to accept the bad with the good.